There’s always one……..

Nobody exaggerates when they say a camel stinks: it’s hard to pick which end emits the less repugnant aroma. I was in full agreement after I had the misfortune to ride this malodorous machine in Tunisia: many moons ago.

It is 110° on the edge of the Sahara desert, the heat having caused mental impairment, well; I assume it has, as I queue up (yes) to go for a wonderful scenic camel ride to an oasis.

Sitting on my camel, hanging on to my eight-year old son, not for his protection; but to ensure I stayed on the beast as it stood up. I let out a sigh of relief, that rivalled the noise the camel was making, as we successfully stayed put; as did my ex and my four-year old son. Unfortunately, two girls didn’t fare so well; one being catapulted over the head and the other – possibly in sympathy – slid off the back. On this occasion I didn’t laugh as fate may have been lurking in the heat.

Off we went, in a nice neat line; my Bert (yes I had named it) managing to break wind on every other sway, this allowed me to gulp in 110° air on the alternate sway. In between being deafened and gassed, I caught sight of the four-year olds leg being kindly washed with camel spit, then the animal took off, making a break for freedom; the ex and the sputum drenched child, looking like two jack-in-a-boxes, bouncing side to side: managed to stay on. I tempted fate and laughed – not too much – as I was mindful of Bert’s rear end extravaganza and I didn’t want to get out of sync with my attempts at breathing unpolluted air.
The chasing herdsman finally caught up with the runaway just as I completed a classic dismount and planted my feet firmly on the sand.
By the grin on their faces, I’m sure the herdsmen had a side bet on the two girls falling off again, but all bets were losers as they both clung on for grim death as the camel jerked itself into the kneeling position.
I waited patiently, admiring the scenic view – although all sand does look-alike – as the rogue camel was being led back to us. I couldn’t decide if the look on my son’s face was that of disdain for the spittle or the “I got a longer ride than you” for his brothers’ benefit.

Was it worth it? Yes! Not for the scenery: sand, the odd palm tree and more sand. (The oasis was left entirely to the imagination.) Neither was it for the joy of seeing ones ex trying out an impression of Lawrence of Arabia; riding into the sunset? No, it was the exhilarating moment when I realised I hadn’t fallen off.


It’s that time of year again….

“I will drive a train this year” ok… This was my yearly contribution to the New Year resolution line at the home I lived in. It was a declaration of a five or six-year-old, blissfully unaware what a resolution actually was. We all lined up and one by one, stepped forward and made our profound announcement, then returned to the line. What was the point? I have no idea. But one thing it managed to achieve was to ensure that I repeated this little ritual unto the present day… Alright, I don’t actually stand in a line by myself – nor do I conduct the aforementioned in view of another living soul. But I do make resolutions, each year, without fail

As well as the New Year resolutions there are a lot of Christmas traditions, which most of us indulge; one way or another: sprouts for Christmas dinner being a prime example…. I like sprouts, but some insist on having them even though they hate them with a passion. This makes no sense to me, but to the sprout hating tradition lovers; it makes all the sense in the world. In a way these extremes are part of the fun side of the festivities that seem to be dwindling.

The making of New Year resolutions is a tradition that many participate in; some with great mirth, others with the intention of actually keeping them. Do not mock us….. not all of us fail.

So if by March the 15th you are overeating, drinking too much, still smoking, haven’t cleared the attic and are still promiscuous; then… you lucky devil.

There is always next year!

Hope you a have great year.

This is me…….

I am sat cross-legged, outside a room, petrified to go in…. The funeral of Winston Churchill was being broadcast and I knew I was expected to watch….i was late. I was unsure if I was to walk in, or wait for somebody to notice I was missing. Now, why a 7-year-old would need to view such a spectacle beats me. I can remember getting into the room, but stood in the corner, not facing the television. I am not sure if this was a different occasion, but I do remember that the corner and I were well acquainted. I am, now, never late and I never did like Mr Churchill.

This was my home. Not a home in the normal sense, but a Dr Barnardo’s home….and this was the one I once lived in. I found this photograph, while looking for something else. It was surreal at first; the disquiet was overwhelming me as I stared at the image for ages, unable to look away. Was I trying to remember or suppress. which? I was unable to reach a decision.

Over the years thoughts of the home had been infrequent, mainly when an event occurred, forcing me to look back. This I did brilliantly, managing to annihilate each invasion into my memory bank with a modus operandi the Victorians would have been proud of: Stiff upper lip.

This time, however, my stiff upper lip was wobbling and quickly disintegrated until it was no more… At first I blamed my age followed by my age again. Deep down though (I don’t do deep down) I knew it was the picture and the brief history of the home. It pervaded my mind and wouldn’t let go. Something had to give….. I used logic: as I didn’t want to send myself into the dark place of madness, I took the better option and started to try to put things into retrospect. I have probably forgotten more than I can remember, but I did manage to drag out some events and incidents.

There seems to be a theme of sitting crossed legged on the floor; on another occasion of “floor sitting” I was in the Matron’s bedroom, it must have been early in the morning, as she was still in bed and I was told to keep quiet and not to move. Now desperate for the toilet, I did what any young child would have done: emptied my bladder on the carpet. The fear of the consequences of having a wee on the carpet – as it was their fault – was far less than disobeying an instruction. No repercussions were forthcoming, so I assume I got away with that incident. I can quite honestly say I have never weed on any carpet since!

I have managed to extract quite a few memories, they often catch me unawares, but I now stop and think-I may have a vacant expression on my face, looking like I have lost the plot-but I carry on, trying to remember and I have stopped sweeping away this often painful existence, under the proverbial carpet. Unfortunately I must rely on the information my cerebral cortex is willing to share with me and accept that a lot of the memories are lost.

Did my stay mould me into who I am? Unequivocally. I am remarkably “normal” (Ok, I know that’s my opinion, but it is correct at the time of writing) I do have a few battle scars and a few short comings, but don’t we all? I am who I am…..

Right or wrong….

It was the Kings speech that made me think of the strange prejudice towards those who were left-handed. It was alleged that King George VI was a left hander, who had been forced to use his right.

So what is it that  makes sensible intelligent people, detest the thought of left-handedness? I have read many theories; but am still none the wiser!  When I recall certain incidents from my childhood, I can, as an adult, realise what happened to me. As a child I had no idea! The following is an account of what I remember and how I applied a childs logic.

There were two of us in a classroom, who had to sit on our left hands, if the left hand came into the teachers vision, a few raps over the knuckles with a ruler would follow. It seems strange that I remember the pain of sitting on my throbbing hand, rather than the pain of the ruler.

I was never afraid to go to school, but I yearned to please the teacher. I constantly told myself, to sit on my wrong hand, I didn’t say left; as I was unaware it was called left. I assumed that I was doing something wrong, and I  did all Icould to make sure the teacher would be pleased with me.

I was bought up in a children’s home, and I seem to remember keeping my hands in my pocket (I still do) maybe to hide bruised knuckles, also I was always falling off my bike, so maybe all the signs of the ruler were masked by the falls! Even at a very young age, I didn’t want to rock the boat; how on earth can a young child be aware of the need to keep silent?  I carried that don’t rock the boat syndrome well into my adult life. I don’t remember if I suffered this ‘corrective treatment’ in the home as I am unable to match up my punishments with the crimes. To be fair, I doubt it, as most of the punishments were done by staff, who I think were probably on relief. Please don’t get me wrong, on the whole, the incidents were few and far between, and I am not sure if I am more haunted by what happened, or what I have forgotten!  So I can only conclude that it was only the teacher who had the issues with my left-handedness. I cannot for the life of me, remember her name and her face is a blank; I can see her hair in a tight bun, and the blue tweed suit she wore.

When I went to Secondary School, I was well and truly right-handed; although my left was the prominent one for sports; nobody said a word, that may well be down to the fact that I was useless at sport, and the correction wasn’t worth the effort!

I have no idea how long it took to make me use my right, but to this day I use my right hand for most things, and I still occasionally sit on my left.

I thought this prejudice was a product of years gone by, but when my daughter was born I knew she was left-handed as she sucked her left thumb. When she was old enough to start drawing; she always used her left. I once saw her grandma keep giving her the crayon in her right hand and then my daughter would automatically transfer it to her left. My Mother-in-law was told to get used to the idea; her grand-daughter was left-handed. I asked her why she felt the way she did, towards left-handed people, apart from, she won’t be able to open a tin or knit: she couldn’t say why.

My proudly cuddy wifter daughter is 19, she has figured out the tin opener, but sadly didn’t master the art of knitting.